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What Conditions Can Cause Bladder Pain?

What Conditions Can Cause Bladder Pain?

Symptoms like bladder pain and irritation are not restricted to Interstitial Cystitis (IC) and other urinary tract infections alone. It may be caused due to various other conditions. The only way to diagnose the real cause of bladder pain is by undergoing various medical tests for diseases that manifest themselves with this symptom.

This enables doctors to eliminate the conditions for which the test results are negative and find out the actual cause of the symptom.

Here are some conditions that manifest themselves through bladder pain.

Chronic UTI

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is caused by the growth of bacteria in the urinary system, which comprises kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. UTI is more common in the lower urinary tract that includes the bladder and the urethra.

These organs help in flushing urine out of the body from the bladder. When the bacteria spreads to the upper urinary tract including the kidneys and ureters, the condition becomes severe.

The symptoms of this medical condition do not always manifest themselves. When they do, here are the symptoms to look out for:

  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Sudden and uncontrollable urges to urinate
  • Difficulty to start urinating
  • Discomfort, pain, or burning sensation while urinating
  • Leaking urine
  • Frequently waking up at night to urinate
  • Urinating more than usual
  • Pain in the central lower abdomen
  • Restricted flow of urine despite the uncontrollable urge
  • Blood in urine
  • Urine with unbearable odor

Symptoms of chronic or severe UTI include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Back pain

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Muscles of the pelvic floor are located around the bladder and organs of the reproductive system. Misplaced positioning of the pelvic floor muscles or excessively tight muscles around the bladder may cause Pelvic Floor Dysfunction.

For instance, tight muscles around the bladder can lead to pain in the bladder or urethra. This is one of the leading symptoms of urinary tract infection (UTI).

The pelvic floor muscles may tighten as a response to the pain. It may also create the urge to urinate frequently. This is a health condition that may be triggered by a medical history of UTI.

However, bladder pain can occur due to multiple factors, other than UTI. One of these is the inappropriate workout of the pelvic floor muscles. This happens when a person holds their urine for too long.

bladder pain

Interstitial cystitis (IC)

Also known as bladder pain syndrome, this chronic disorder is caused by bladder inflammation.

It manifests itself through symptoms that closely resemble that of urinary tract infections like unusually frequent urination, a persistent feeling of wanting to urinate, and irritation, etc.

However, the real cause of this medical condition is yet to be discovered. It is more common in women and may cause serious damage to the bladder lining in severe cases.

Interstitial cystitis, unlike UTIs, can be treated with changes in diet and lifestyle, medications, and surgical procedures. People with IC are often diagnosed with Pelvic Floor Dysfunction as well.

Lyme Disease

Bladder pain and frequent urination can be the symptoms of another medical condition called Lyme Disease.

Lyme Disease occurs when the Lyme bacteria enter the bladder and traps other bacteria. Next, it may spread to the nervous system that specializes in innervating the bladder.

So, you can ask your doctor to suggest blood tests meant for Lyme Disease as well, just to be on the safe side.

This may be especially important if you have cut yourself recently, got a tick bite, or live in an area that is prone to Lyme disease. IC and Lyme are very closely related.

Getting treated for this medical condition often controls the symptoms typical to Interstitial Cystitis as well.


Endometriosis is a condition where uterine-like tissue develops outside the uterus and may also enter the bladder. It may manifest itself with pelvis inflammation, apart from bladder pain and painful sex. IC and endometriosis are closely related and diagnosis of one of these may indicate the presence of the other.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

Some UTIs and STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhea show IC symptoms like bladder pain, frequent urge to urinate. It may also get manifested through symptoms of urinary tract infections like vaginal discharge and pelvic pain. Whether the symptoms are due to an STI or IC can be diagnosed by undergoing an RNA-based test.

Intolerance to certain food products and chemicals

Sometimes bladder pain may not be the cause of any medical condition at all. It may be due to certain food that some people are intolerant to. These food products include soy, tofu, cow milk, eggs, refined sugar, gluten, processed and packaged food items, etc.

Some chemicals like nicotine, the smell of paints and lacquers, food dyes, nitrates, and sulfites may also irritate the bladder, causing pain. Food intolerance varies greatly amongst individuals. Cutting certain food items out of the diet prevents bladder pain and irritation.

Sjogren’s and other Autoimmune Diseases

Some autoimmune disorders involve the immune system attacking glands that specialize in producing tears and saliva. This, in turn, may cause inflammation in the bladder, appearing like a case of Interstitial Cystitis.

Patients with IC are also more susceptible to autoimmune disorders like Sjogren’s and systemic lupus. Treating the symptoms of IC often cures the accompanying autoimmune diseases as well.

Do you know of any more health conditions that have bladder pain as the main symptom? Share them with us in the comments!

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


What Causes Interstitial Cystitis? How 10 Women Got To The Root Of Their Bladder Pain https://www.bustle.com/p/what-causes-interstitial-cystitis-how-10-women-got-to-the-root-of-their-bladder-pain-15913236 Accessed on 28/04/2020

Bladder Pain https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/bladder-pain##1 Accessed on 28/04/2020

What’s causing bladder pain or burning? https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/whats-causing-bladder-pain-or-burning Accessed on 28/04/2020

Bladder Pain https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/bladder-pain Accessed on 28/04/2020

4 Hidden causes of Bladder pain: Know the Signs https://www.everydayhealth.com/news/4-hidden-causes-bladder-pain/ Accessed on 28/04/2020

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Written by Nikita Bhalla Updated Jun 30, 2021
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel